shaving

Conair i-Stubble Review

by Michael on March 28, 2011 · 0 comments

If there’s one thing I’m constantly asked about, it’s the fastest, easiest way to get facial hair under control. So when the kind folks at Conair sent me their i-Stubble shaver for an advance review, I couldn’t say no. (Well, I never say no right now, but that’s another story.)

However, this required that I do something I usually don’t: let my facial hair grow out. Let’s just say that with two-to-three-days’ scruff I don’t exactly resemble Dr. McDreamy. But guys who aren’t as facially follicular-challenged as myself need to keep that scruff from turning into Grizzly Adams or the guy from Iron & Wine. Regular clippers aren’t precise enough to do the job, so if you want your stubble to remain in that “sweet spot” you’ll need something more specialized.

But the i-Stubble is more than that, and there’s good reason for even a clean-shaven guy like me to keep it on the bathroom shelf.

20-Grit or 30?

The i-Stubble (branded as the BaByLiss i-Stubble overseas) looks at first glance like a normal electric trimmer, with a plastic blade guard and sharp metal cutting blades. The magic of this device is the precision cutting guide: it’s adjustable in 0.2 millimeter increments, from 0.4 mm all the way up to 5.0 mm. Just press the up or down buttons and a little motor moves the guide into position. When the digital readout shows you the length you’re looking for, you’re ready to groom.

With normal clippers, the angle can be tricky: held perpendicular to your face, you might get a much shorter cut than at a 30-degree angle. With the i-Stubble, you hold the guide flat against your face, no guesswork involved. The instruction sheet recommends shaving upwards (against the grain), and I found that to be the best way to cut. For the neck and chin, I also found it necessary to go over the area another time or two in a different direction—the instruction sheet recommends that as well.

With one exception (I’ll get to that in a minute), the i-Stubble gave me a wonderful, even trim. If I were to “wear” stubble every day, this would be a godsend.

But Wait, There’s More

Let’s say you’re rocking a tight beard, mustache or goatee. That 5mm setting can keep it from fuzzing out. I normally have a little soul patch these days, and I can set the i-Stubble to its longest cut length, pass over my little spot once, and I’m done with it.

And I can fold back the guide (no loose parts to go missing!) and use the blades to shape my patch, trim those hairs at the back of my neck between haircuts, and even snag the few stray hairs on my shoulders. The relatively small size of the i-Stubble blades make it easy to handle. With all the varied use, I haven’t had to recharge the device in the three weeks or so that I’ve had it.

Not Without Its Flaws

Another unique “feature” of my facial hair is that it grows right up to within about 1/8 of an inch from my nose. Attempting to trim the stubble on my upper lip became a boxing match between the i-Stubble and my nostrils. The guide has curved sides which, if they could be flattened, would allow the device to pass under the nose with minimal contact—perhaps that’s a feature for version 2.0.

Also, it would be great if the device would remember the setting it was last used at, instead of resetting the next time it’s turned on. A minor annoyance (it’s kind of fun to watch the guide move with the little motor sound) but every extra ten seconds added on to the morning ritual is an extra ten seconds earlier I have to get up, and I like my sleep.

Summary

Some men are more cut out for a daily wet shave with a safety razor. Others look great with a smattering of shadow. If you’re farming stubble, the Conair for Men i-Stubble should be your implement of choice. It’s also useful beyond its prime directive, and beyond the trendy “i-” name. If I could download apps on it, the name would be perfect.

Conair for Men iStubble [Amazon.com]

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Do Real Men Moisturize?

by Michael on January 26, 2010 · 0 comments

What happens when women intrude on men's "moisturizing parties."

There are two schools of thought on men’s facial products:

  • “Real men don’t put anything on their faces except maybe some musky, spicy after shave.”
  • “I look at Tommy Lee Jones and think maybe I can do better.”

You know, there’s something to be said for that weathered look that adds so much character to a guy…if he’s a movie star. But think about the last regular guy you saw walking down the street with a face that has obviously been unprotected from the elements for 30-40 years and said to yourself, “now there goes a handsome man.”

The fact is, aging happens. Everyone’s face loses elasticity as they get older. But another fact is that it doesn’t have to happen in your 30s. Yet another, third fact is that some of this “natural” weathering can lead to some nasty conditions or even skin cancer.

The way to stay younger looking longer is to treat your skin well, including application of a good moisturizer. This isn’t makeup we’re talking about. It just locks in moisture and protects from the elements. And you don’t have to spend extra time in front of the mirror or buy a medicine chest full of specialized products to do it.

Two minutes of your life you will get back

Your quick skin care regimen starts after you put down the razor: a good after shave balm soothes the burn and protects your skin. First wash your whole face, then rub the balm gently into the damp skin where you shaved.

Then grab your moisturizer—one with an SPF, to protect you from sun damage—and gently apply it from the forehead down. Your skin should be slightly damp, as moisturizers don’t work as well when there’s no moisture to lock in. Be extra gentle in the fragile area under each eye, and don’t forget the nose. If your shave balm has an SPF, you can stop where you applied the balm. If not, continue to apply a protective layer of moisturizer all the way down to your collarbone.

And that, my friend, is it.

You can add a targeted eye cream (some are soothing, as if you splashed your eyes with ice water, but most don’t do much an all-purpose moisturizer can’t do) or a special “serum,” but these aren’t necessary for the basic task of prolonging your youthful skin.

Live well for better skin

Like the rest of your body, your skin also benefits from a positive lifestyle:

  • Get enough rest.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Don’t spend long periods in the sun, or wear a hat to shade your face.
  • Watch the drinking binges.
  • Eat healthy food. (Salmon and tuna are especially good for the skin.)

With the stopgap exceptions of Botox and facelifts, there’s little you can do to get your younger look back when your face edges into Christopher Walken territory, so prevention is your best weapon.

What to buy

I’ve tried a few products over the years, and a few stand out.

To help keep your pores clean after you shave, Neutrogena Deep Clean Facial Cleanser is a simple face wash. In fact, for basic, inexpensive products Neutrogena rules, and you really don’t have to spend much for a good face wash.

A few great aftershave balms I’ve tried are Zirh Soothe Post-Shave Solution and Billy Jealousy Shaved Ice After-Shave Balm on the higher end, and Nivea for Men Cooling Post Shave Balm on the more inexpensive side.

My favorite moisturizer is Zirh Protect face moisturizer—I’m yet to find anything I like better. But because your mileage (and budget) may vary, I recently tried Neutrogena Men Age Fighter Face Moisturizer and it does its job without clogging my pores, which I can’t say of everything at that price.

To wrap, a couple of minutes per day will help add at least a few years to your skin’s elasticity—and combined with the right lifestyle, you could end up looking 35 when you’re 45. But like saving for retirement, starting early yields the best results.

You can look “like you’ve really lived,” or you can really live and just keep them guessing. The choice is yours.

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Shaving: A Lost Art?

July 21, 2009 Grooming

While I’m not sure that putting a razor to the man-bits is such a smart idea, there’s a lot to be said for good facial grooming. And some of us are lucky: in a pinch I can grab one of the free disposable face-rippers at the gym, quickly slap some Barbisol on my mug and […]

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